Calera city leaders take office with challenges

CALERA, AL (WBRC) - Just 7 days after voters put them into office, Calera's new mayor and council took the oath of office and declared themselves ready to work.

"I think it's exciting," said incumbent council member Ernest Montgomery. "As we're looking forward to see the new mayor's agenda, his vision for the city, and we're hoping to get behind and catch hold of that vision and take our city forward."

"I'm excited, I couldn't ask for any better transition," said new Mayor Jon Graham. "I believe this is going to be a good period of time, it's been a long wait, and I think it's a good outcome."

Calera's new mayor has been getting on-the-job training for more than a year as he waited for new elections after the Justice Department declared last autumn's results invalid.

Mayor Graham said the city won't have to layoff any more workers, and he believes the budget picture will improve. But at least 1 of the 2 new council members is still concerned about city finances.

"I think we've got to watch our spending," said new council member Ed "EZ" Gentry. "We've got to get our payroll in line. Get it down some. How we're gonna do that is up to my fellow councilmen and other ideas they might have, but we have definitely got to get in line."

"We need to be real careful, be held accountable for what's going on," Graham said. "I see light at the end of the tunnel, we've got some good things headed our way. "I think we're growing as it is now, even though we're having revenue troubles that don't mean we're not growing," incumbent City Councilor Mike Roberson said. "Our city's still growing, and the future really looks bright. I think the next 2 to 3 years you'll see new things come to our city."

The new council didn't do any official business tonight, but they did hear some words of encouragement from outgoing longtime Mayor George Roy, who said after a year of working with the incoming mayor, he's confident the city is heading in the right direction.